Like many people, I seem all too willing to criticize people I’ve never met simply because they do something that irritates me. It’s hard not to want to lash out when you interpret someone’s behavior solely from internal feelings rather than considering unknown external factors that may be in play.
Social psychology theory refers to this tendency as the “fundamental attribution error.”
For example, when I see someone pushing a baby carriage down the side of the street instead of using the sidewalk, my first inclination is to ask them if they chewed paint chips as a hobby when they were young. I find myself getting mad that someone would risk the safety of a child like that.
But maybe the parent knows something I don’t know. Maybe the kid is the spawn of Satan and they’re just trying to save us from an apocalypse.
Of course, some days I think we could really use an apocalypse or two. It would definitely ease congestion on the roads in the morning.